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American Period Rooms

The Frank Lloyd Wright Hallway



Come in, relax, and enjoy a view of the lake.

Imagine sitting here on a summer day. The sunshine warms you through the open windows. The water sparkles. A cool breeze glides past your face. This is truly an enjoyable place to be.

In Minnesota, many people spend some time in the summer relaxing by a lake. This hallway was part of a house on Lake Minnetonka that was the summer retreat of Frank and Mary Little. The architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, had already designed a home for the Littles in Illinois. When they moved to Minnesota in 1908, they knew they wanted him to design another.

This hallway, which led to a bedroom, was a private place to enjoy a view of the lake through the long span of windows. Wright originally designed windows with elaborate patterns of colored glass. But Mr. Little thought windows like that would block too much of the wonderful view. As a compromise, Wright left large spaces of clear glass in the center of many windows and framed them with intricate borders and geometric patterns. The Littles thought this design really highlighted the lake view, much as a frame sets off a beautiful painting.

After Mr. Little died, Mrs. Little gave the house to their daughter, Eleanor. Over time, the house became a burden for the family. It was large and expensive to maintain. And as Wright’s fame spread, many uninvited guests tried to catch a glimpse of the Littles’ house. Eventually, Eleanor decided to sell it. At first she couldn’t find a buyer and feared the house would have to be torn down. Luckily, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York came to the rescue, buying the house and carefully dismantling it. The spacious living and music room was installed in the Metropolitan, and other rooms were sold to other institutions, including The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

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1. This hallway was part of a house in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
2. This how the hallway looked in the original house.
3. Up close, you can see the different patterns on the windows.


February 2005